NCF Nation: Tommy Dorman
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is taking his time deciding on his starting quarterback.
But Sherman joked Thursday that he still isn't ready to make his decision yet. He'll watch both quarterbacks participate in a scrimmage Saturday morning at Kyle Field as one of the final determining factors.
"We have two good quarterbacks," Sherman said. "Somebody said something about the controversy we have at quarterback. It's not a quarterback controversy to me."
Johnson is presumed to have the inside track after starting the final 10 games last season, passing for 2,435 yards and a school-record 21 touchdowns in 2008 as a sophomore. He received all of the meaningful snaps with the Aggies' first-string offense in Thursday's practice.
"It's competition," Johnson said. "It's what you play the game for. That's one of the things I respect about Coach Sherman -- he always has the competition factor there. He never lets you get complacent in your situation, and that's how it should be.
"The best player should play, and competition only makes your team stronger."
Tannehill led the Aggies in receiving last season after he was pressed into duty there when he couldn't crack the logjam at the top with Johnson and Stephen McGee. He set school freshman records with 55 receptions and 844 receiving yards.
Despite his strong start at the new position, Sherman promised him a chance to compete for a starting quarterback job this season. That effort was supposed to start this spring, but was shelved for several months as Tannehill recovered from a torn labrum.
Finally healthy, he has given his old position a strong shot in preseason camp.
"I came here to be a quarterback," Tannehill told reporters earlier this week.
But the recent emergence of Tommy Dorman as a backup might make it easier for Sherman to move Tannehill back to wide receiver. He would provide Johnson with a strong pair of receivers with him and Jeff Fuller that could boost the productive of the Aggies' offense.
"I definitely want to be on the field," Tannehill said. "It's hard to help the team standing on the sidelines. But right now, my focus is on playing quarterback."
Sherman has been pleased with the work of both Johnson and Tannehill during fall practice.
"It's been a good week for the quarterbacks," Sherman said. "They have competed well and they're both doing an excellent job."
Because of the strong finish by both quarterbacks, Sherman has opted to let the competition steep a little more over the weekend.
And because of that, Sherman will judge the progress of both quarterbacks with a critical eye as he plans for the Aggies' Sept. 5 opener against New Mexico.
"We're very fortunate because a lot of teams would like to have the quality quarterbacks that we have," Sherman said. "I'm happy to have the two we have. We're better because we have those two players. We'll figure this thing out soon enough."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Most coaches hope they never have to turn to their backup quarterback. But it's still a good insurance policy as any team gets ready for a season to have a trusted replacement who can bail out an injured or struggling starter.
Coaches in the Big 12 are no different. Here's a look at the top backup quarterbacks in the league. During my analysis, I placed particular importance on proven ability to play rather than future promise. And I also did not factor in highly regarded incoming freshmen players who will join their teams at schools like Texas and Kansas State later this summer.
Here's my ranking of the backup quarterbacks in the Big 12 in order.
1. Colorado: The conference's most fluid starting quarterback situation results in the Buffaloes having the top backup. With Cody Hawkins appearing to be nosing ahead at the end of spring practice, Tyler Hansen earns the nod because of his recent experience as a winning quarterback in the Big 12 -- even considering he is recovering from a broken thumb suffered in Colorado's spring game.
2. Baylor: Experience helps Blake Szymanski in case the Bears would ever need to replace Robert Griffin. Szymanski has made 13 career starts and has thrown for 3,561 yards and 26 career touchdown passes.
3. Kansas: Mark Mangino says he wants to keep the move of Kerry Meier to wide receiver permanent. If so, he would need to turn the backup quarterback job over to Kale Pick at some point this season. But it still has to be relatively reassuring for Mangino to know he can always turn to Meier, who made eight career starts and has completed 28 of his last 32 passes over the past two seasons.
4. Iowa State: Obviously, it was against the Iowa State offense. But redshirt freshman Jerome Tiller looks like he's ready to challenge Austen Arnaud for the starting position this summer after blistering the Cyclones' defense for 210 yards and adding a 65-yard TD run in the ISU spring game. That outing should enable new ISU coach Paul Rhoads to have some confidence if he has to turn to Tiller.
5. Oklahoma: With Sam Bradford likely to play most of the season, Bob Stoops probably won't turn to his backups that much. Redshirt freshman Landry Jones showed flashes in the Sooners' spring game, completing 5 of 12 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown during limited playing time. Drew Allen, who left high school a semester early to join the Sooners, looked painfully raw in his limited work.
6. Nebraska: For all of the pre-spring excitement about a battle for the quarterback job, Zac Lee easily won the starting spot. The Cornhuskers have several capable backups, with the best showing of the spring coming from converted linebacker LaTravis Washington. Kody Spano should be good to go by fall practice after he recovers from knee surgery. And Cody Green is the most heralded quarterback prospect in the Nebraska program, although he struggled with injuries and fell behind early after graduating from high school early to join the program this spring.
7. Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy hoped that former minor-league baseball player Brandon Weeden would distance himself from Alex Cate and earn the backup role behind Zac Robinson. Weeden struggled late in spring practice and couldn't widen the gap, leaving the backup battle continuing into the summer.
8. Missouri: After Blaine Gabbert claimed the starting job early in spring practice, as expected, scrappy walk-on Jimmy Costello had his moments, too. But Costello's performance leveled off late in spring practice and Blaine Dalton was pushing to unseat him as the backup before he was arrested and suspended from the team. Both Dalton and Ashton Glazer had typical freshman moments of great plays and shaky ones on a consistent basis.
9. Texas Tech: Taylor Potts was picked as the starter from the opening day of spring practice, but former walk-on Steven Sheffield appeared to have claimed the No. 2 job over Stefan Loucks and Seth Doege. All are relatively inexperienced in operating Mike Leach's offense.
10. Texas: Sherrod Harris struggled operating the Texas offense in the spring game. Some of his struggles might have been understandable considering he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee only three weeks after spring practice finished. When Garrett Gilbert arrives this summer, it will push the Longhorns up several places on the list. But until then, they rank among the bottom Big 12 teams on the list.
11. Texas A&M: Expected competition in spring ball never materialized as wide receiver Ryan Tannehill was recuperating from a torn labrum. Instead, Tommy Dorman got most of the snaps behind Jerrod Johnson as the only other scholarship quarterback on the team. Dorman struggled with his consistency.
12. Kansas State: Carson Coffman appears to have claimed the starting job for the Wildcats -- at least until Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas arrive to challenge him later this summer. His backups who played in the spring game struggled through a miserable effort against the Wildcats' defense, which is saying something. Collin Klein, Joseph Kassanavoid, Trey Scott and Milton McPeak combined to complete only 9 of 26 passes in the spring game with two interceptions and five sacks. Look for the Wildcats' quarterback depth to improve with the arrival of Gregory and Thomas.